To support gun violence prevention efforts in our communities, the Rams and Giffords hosted a roundtable with Community Violence Intervention (CVI) workers at SoFi Stadium in the Rams' locker room.
The roundtable conversation was moderated by Paul Carrillo, Director of Giffords Law Center's Community Violence Initiative, and featured former Congresswoman, gun violence survivor and co-founder of Giffords, Gabby Giffords. The panelists included local CVI workers, a local trauma surgeon, and representatives from Urban Peace Institute, Homeboy Industries and Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention (OVP).
Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development, Johnathan Franklin, opened the roundtable discussion with brief remarks to the group.
"Today we know what we're here for, but it's important to connect with 'why' we're here because only then will we be able to all band together for the 'how'... How to create a change that lasts beyond a moment, and search for change that creates a movement, a movement for voices to be raised higher, action to be implemented consistently and more conversations to take place," said Franklin. "We are humbled and honored to be a part of today's important conversation as we discuss a path forward to collectively fight gun violence."
Giffords is a nonprofit organization that aims to shift culture, change policies, challenge injustice and inspire Americans across the country to fight gun violence.
"I've watched gun violence destroy too many lives," explained Gabby Giffords. "After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I said, 'enough is enough' and I founded a group called Giffords. We are on a mission to end gun violence."
During the intimate 45-minute conversation focused on community violence intervention, the experts discussed Los Angeles gun violence statistics, the rise of gun violence in communities of color, the mission of intervention work, as well as the importance of providing infrastructures and institutionalized support for intervention workers.
"Since April of 2009, our intervention workers have responded to over 6,000 incidences of violence in the City of Los Angeles… That's a huge number and that number continues to increase each year. The efforts of all of us at this table and the funding that is needed will continue to help us address the issue," explained Ben Owens, a Los Angeles CVI worker. "In the City of Los Angeles, we have approximately 130 intervention workers, but that's not enough. Our drive is to increase those numbers so we can really impact the City of Los Angeles."
Supporting Giffords' mission to save lives from gun violence, the goal of the roundtable conversation was to elevate the voices of peacemakers that do dangerous and life-saving work in our communities.
Before closing the roundtable, Gabby Giffords left the group with one final message, "Fight, fight, fight, every day!"
The roundtable conversation accompanied Giffords' Gun Violence Memorial tour. Since April, Giffords has set up Gun Violence Memorials in major cities around the U.S to bring awareness to the issue and inspire the #CouragetoAct. The tour began with a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with 40,000 flowers to represent the number of Americans whose lives are lost to gun violence each year. From Oct. 18 – 22, the Gun Violence Memorial came to Exposition Park in Los Angeles to remember victims of gun violence.
"At the Rams, we pride ourselves on listening and responding to the greatest community needs, and we see that gun violence is increasing at its highest since we've been back in Los Angeles with more than 3,400 Californians losing their lives to gun violence this past year," explained Franklin. "The Rams have a saying, 'It Takes All of Us' to inspire change and more importantly, to create positive change."
To learn more about the Rams community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.